In 2014, significant shifts in the marketing landscape will dramatically influence how chief marketing officers (CMOs) strategize and prioritize for success. CMOs will plunge forward into a year of uncertainty, where the only thing that's clear is that sticking to the status quo will likely result in failure.

To avoid failure, CMOs will be forced to alter the way they promote their brands, incorporating new outlets and tools into their repertoires and creating more dynamic and efficient marketing teams.

The big changes to watch out for are...

  • The adoption of new technologies and media outlets
  • The determination of native advertising's value
  • The increasing use of programmatic buying

1. CMOs will adopt new technologies and alliances

Marketing teams will continue to be challenged to do more with less. However, as the media and marketing industries evolve, new technologies and tactics will offer marketers unprecedented options and abilities. This year, as industries grow more competitive in increasingly crowded marketplaces, CMOs will have to take a more experimental approach to stand out. In addition, to ensure the ROI that their executive team expects, CMOs will need to use more resources for testing and experimentation. That includes richer measurement tools to manage campaigns to greater success.

Many companies also are forging alliances to achieve more and go further than they would on their own. The Publicis-Omnicom merger announced last summer instantly comes to mind. The two ad agency giants agreed to partner to become more efficient and competitive globally. But mergers aren't only happening in the media and marketing space. Even automotive companies are coming together to produce more innovative brands and campaigns. BMW and Toyota recently announced that they will be collaborating to design a new sports car together, and Mercedes has been talking with Infiniti about an SUV joint venture.

More than ever, marketers are looking for creative ways to produce more value while investing less time and money. Thus, we can expect an increase in that kind of experimentation.

2. CMOs will watch closely to determine native advertising's value

Native advertising has reached a tipping point, and it will likely assert itself as the new big form of contextual advertising. CMOs will be allocating more funds to their advertorial budgets this year, but they must carefully walk the often blurred line between advertising and content. Overzealous marketing teams who attempt to push their content on consumers will see their efforts backfire.

Luckily for CMOs, research shows that consumers are willing to embrace native advertising. IPG Media Labs facilitated a study that revealed consumers faced with mobile ads look at native ads 53% more often than standard banners. Several advertisers took the risk early on and have seen positive results (e.g. Office Max's dancing elves or Old Spice's recent work). Consumers found those more disruptive campaigns entertaining and engaging. However, other companies are still working to achieve success in the nontraditional advertising department. The diet and supplement industry, often clouded by consumer skepticism, is still working toward consumer acceptance of new forms of advertising.

With consumers' acceptance of native advertising, many CMOs and marketing departments are working hard to quickly orient themselves with that form of advertising. With many variations in ad types and executions, even companies that have had successful native advertising campaigns will be wise to continually experiment, test, and push the envelope here.

3. CMOs will increasingly use programmatic buying

Programmatic buying is quickly evolving and becoming widely adopted by marketing teams. In the near future, programmatic buying, which essentially provides a system for ads to be purchased for their real-time value, will account for a significant share of display ad budgets. That trend will be fueled by the continuing desire to boost the quality of digital ads and increase advertising efficiency.

CMOs will view their marketing strategy with a three-pronged lens, integrating video, audio and display into their plans, so consumers can be engaged more than ever. The purchase funnel has evolved into an ellipse with all the touchpoints revolving around the consumer. Increasing the forms of media types provides more of those touchpoints to engage consumers from multiple directions. As a result, the time in which consumers receive, interpret, and act upon marketers' messages is dramatically condensed.

Programmatic buying facilitates the management of delivery and captures the data that helps maximize results. Popular brands like Apple can harness this trend and employ their loyal consumer base when announcing new products. The news quickly goes viral, triggering consumer interest and compelling others to run out and immediately purchase the product.

To capitalize on that development, marketing departments will have to advance their skills to capture the data that helps maximize results. Though programmatic buying will not directly lead to downsizing, it will streamline the process and may eliminate certain roles. The need to connect with consumers on a human level will remain, but more marketing departments with keenly honed strategic skills will emerge.

* * *

As CMOs lead their marketing departments into this new world, they will encounter hurdles. With the many developments in technologies and tactics, increased used of native advertising, and adoption of programmatic buying, CMOs will find their abilities to quickly adapt, find creative ways to connect with their consumer, and prove their worth tested. Many companies are already well on their way to success in 2014, but others will be wise to look to these companies' examples and address these developments head on.

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Three Big Ways CMOs Are Changing Their Marketing in 2014

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image of Jim Porçarelli

Jim Porçarelli is chief strategy officer at Active International.

LinkedIn: Jim Porçarelli